Articles on Making Health Care Better

Cost of Drugs

Cancer Rx: The $100,000 Myth, May 2014 AARP Bulletin

‘Improved drugs’ and ‘high research costs” claims to justify expensive cancer drugs don’t hold up. Drug companies estimate a new drug costs $1.3 billion to get to market. However, after removing inflated costs such as taxpayer subsidies and “forgone profits had the companies invested in stocks and bonds,” that number plummets to $125 million. Oncologists say that most new cancer drugs provide few clinical advantages over existing ones. The new drugs in the past 15 years have generated 6x more revenue than the old ones –companies are charging too much for little patient benefit. Drug companies should be focusing on creating improved drugs instead of marginally better drugs at increasingly higher prices.

Doctors’ Relationships with Pharmaceutical Companies

Free Samples Influence Doctors’ Prescriptions, Well, New York Times, April 18, 2014

Doctors are much more likely to prescribe brand name drugs if they have been given free samples, even when equally effective, less expensive other drugs were available.

Clamor for Sunshine Act Continues, MedPage Today, Joyce Frieden, Jan. 16, 2013

Act requires disclosure of financial relationships between pharma and docs. As of this date it is stuck at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Real World Data on Adverse Events

Unreported Side Effects of Drugs Are Found Using Internet Search Data, John Markoff, NYTimes, March 6, 2013

Using search programming similar to Google Flu Trends, program finds side effects of drugs by queries in search engines.

Mining the Internet for Speedier Alerts on Drugs, Wall Street Journal, Shirley S. Wang, Oct. 8, 2012

Detecting adverse events by scanning chat rooms, websites and news stories on line.

Continued Medical Testing

Testing What We Think We Know, New York Times, H, Gilbert Welch, Opinion Pages, Aug. 19, 2012

Calling for studies on efficacy on existing medical practices and drugs.

Improving the Medical System

ObamaCare: The Rest of the Story, Bill Keller, OpEd, New York Times, Oct. 13, 2013

Skip the first paragraph if you don’t like ObamaCare and read the rest closely. Keller identifies what some medical practices are doing to redefine health care into keeping people healthy. And everyone saves money when that happens.

Big Med, The New Yorker, Atul Gawande, Aug., 13, 2012

The Cheesecake Factory can produce hundreds of intricate, delicious meals a night in hot and pressure-filled kitchen environments. How do they do it and what can medicine learn from it?

The Hot Spotters, The New Yorker, Atul Gawande, Jan. 24, 2011

How can giving highly personalized care to the neediest (poor and chronically ill) patients, lower medical costs?

Patient Education

Inside the Box, New York Times, Steven Woloshin and Lisa M. Schwartz, Op-Ed piece, July 4, 2011

Outlines a new prescription package insert format that informs consumers and supplies useful information for risk/benefit decisions.

Medication: Timely Reminders (Mass General)

Two low-tech programs have increased adherence to prescribed medicine, especially among the elderly. With technology, doctors and pharmacists are more effective and more hands-on.


Last updated: February 13, 2019